Living presently in an awful present.

Social media is a beast on your mental health. No judgment though. I mean, you probably got to this post by being on social media. (If you're one of the ones who subscribes by email: you are brilliant. I need to take that approach to blogs I like instead of reloading social pages hoping for new content.)

I did okay with being offline this week, and I'm happier for it. I deleted everything but Instagram and Pinterest from my phone. I like those sites because I only follow 1) my real-life friends and 2) anyone who posts glorious photos of Scotland. Scrolling there makes me feel good. I'm trying to hang on to that emotion.

Election week. YIKES. I tried to stay away from it, but my 8-year-old is obsessed. It's nerve-wracking, but I don't want to discourage his interest in democracy. 

Do you remember where you were in November/December of 2000, while the country awaited the results of the Al Gore/George W. Bush campaign? I was two places. My mom had a mastectomy on that Election Day. My grandfather died that day. Things seem to come all at once for me, don't they?

My dad and I consoled ourselves in the hospital room by eating slices of American cheese, which we bit into the shapes of the states as they were called for candidates. We bit so many versions of Florida, we got quite good at them. 

I eventually had to fly back to New York, where I was an Associate Producer at CBS News. That fall I'd been working on a History Channel show called 20th Century with Mike Wallace, episode "Sex and Consequences," which documented the 20th century from the invention of birth control to the AIDS epidemic. We interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci for that episode. Mike Wallace nailed every line without a mistake -- totally brilliant. Here I go namedropping again ... I'll save it for the book..

ANYWAY: while I was producing that episode, I was also working overtime on the 2000 election. Several of us in News Productions, including Mr. Elliot Kirschner (who has an AMAZING book out now co-written with Dan Rather: BUY IT HERE!), were working with the election coverage that now stretched out over a month longer than expected. For some reason we found it important to know all the state's nicknames and in what order they joined the union. We spent our lunch breaks eating NYC pizza and quizzing each other on The Gem State/43rd State. Ever wonder how the on-air talent can say, "Here we are in The Sunshine State..." without hesitation? The answer is: producers, who give them pertinent information before they go live. 

Where were you during that bizarre time of uncertainty in 2000? And what are you doing twenty years later? The same thing? In a different place? 

The glow of a woman who just
voted for Hillary Clinton.
Remember how that felt?  
I'm not in NYC anymore. I'm not in news anymore, but I am still writing. I'm convalescing at home from my own mastectomy. Both my parents are dead. I have two incredible children and a perfect husband. I'm scared of a lot of things, but I have no option but to be brave. My favorite thing about working in television/film was telling stories.

I'm still doing that. I hope the story I get to tell to my grandchildren about the Election of 2020 has a happy ending, all round. That I'm alive to tell my grandchildren, and that it ended with the person who cares about other people winning. It's looking good, but 2016, unfortunately, taught me not to be too optimistic. 

Uncertainty is the enemy of mindfulness. We sit with the present, but the present offers no solutions. We all want to get past this moment. Instead I am trying to embrace the good moments, however tiny they be. I taught my kids how to make coffee this morning, and I sat by the fireplace enjoying every sip. They are giggling. They are arguing. They both have screens. They are fighting plants or zombies or dragons or something -- protecting some imaginary world. I'm cozy in my housecoat, and doing what I love most: writing. 

I am here. Exhaling. Relaxing my shoulders (are you?). 


Brigid Kaelin is a writer, composer, singer, in Kentucky. Here are ways to support her:

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